PennDOT chief named in county

It has only been a few days since PennDOT District 9 announced a new highway maintenance manager for the Huntingdon Countymaintenance department, but the county native has already hit the ground running in his new position.
 
Mike Peachey, a 1995 graduate of Juniata Valley High school and a nine-year veteran of the United States Navy, has been selected to replace maintenance manager Warren Rourke, who retired earlier this year after more than 20 years of service.
 

“After I graduated from Penn State with a degree in civil engineering, I began working for a private engineering firm for five years before coming to PennDOT,” said Peachey, who served as a fire control technician on a submarine while in the Navy. “I thought it was a much better fit for my military background. I spent the last three years working in Bedford County. Each county does things differently.Peachey returns to Huntingdon County after recently working as the senior civil engineer supervisor in Bedford County. Prior to his time in Bedford County, he worked designing bridges for all six counties in PennDOT’s District 9.
 
As Bedford County could learn some things from Huntingdon County, Huntingdon County could learn some things from Bedford County. If you’re not going to improve, you’re not doing your job. There is always room for improvement.”
 
Peachey said even though he’s been on the job for just a few days, he’s already met the staff at the Huntingdon office and said he has an open-door policy.
 
“I am willing to listen to anyone,” he said. “If there is a better, more efficient way we can do things, so be it. Budgets are always tight, so we need to stretch some things. But, on the same token, we need to give the highest service we can to the taxpayers with the money we have.”
 
Peachey said while he’s his own person, he’s not looking to change everything. He said he’s looking forward to keeping some things the same, but there are other things that can be changed for the better.

 
While most of the road work is being done on the bigger highways such as Routes 22, 26 and 522, Peachey said the secondary roadways are important to repair, but sometimes waiting to do repairs is necessary.
 
“I have only seen a limited number of the roadways since I started and I’m fairly happy with the condition of the roads in the county,” Peachey said. “There are some places that could use some attention. The lower four-digit state routes are usually the last to get done and not everyone living along those roadways wants to hear that, but I want them to know we’ll get to them. Hopefully, with the new budget, we’ll have a little more flexibility. We are starting to go back to our seal coating program, which is tarring and chipping, and hopefully we can extend the life of some of the roadways.”
 
He said one of the things he will not do is prep a road for work too far in advance, saying it is really a waste of time.
 
“What I don’t like seeing is going out and prepping roadways years ahead of when the work is going to be done,” said Peachey. “What I mean by that is, going out and doing culvert and pipe replacement and then going out and having them run over for years before the road is paved. So my plan is to try to do the prep work a year before either seal coating or paving, that way you’re not baby-sitting them for over a year before you go in and pave them.”
 
As winter and the effect it has on area roadways arrive, Peachey said he believes in using pre-treatment brine on the roadways to help with the removal of snow and ice.
 
“We used a lot of brine in Bedford County and I am a true believer in brine,” he said. “It quickens the response time for the salt to work. I think there are some changes that can be made in our winter services.”
 
Peachey said he believes safety is a top priority. “Public safety and crew safety is priority number one for me,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone hurt or killed. I believe that restripping roads and adding turning lanes should be a part of the study. That is what was done near the intersection of Yellow Springs and Route 22. When they added the new culvert, they added a turning lane there.”
 
Peachey describes himself as a hard worker and passionate about his job. He believes in being a part of the crew and said he has no problem picking up a shovel and helping.
 
“I was with a crew earlier today and we were waiting for a private contractor to bring some asphalt,” Peachey said. “I believe that you are never going to know what the true issues are if you’re not out talking to the crews. A good workforce is a happy workforce. I told the operator that I’m not going to lie to you. You may not like the answer I give you, but I am not going to sugar coat it. I want us to be a family.”
 
He said there is one major concern he would like to address immediately along Stone Creek Ridge Road. He said the road slopes towards the guardrail and he hopes crews can begin working on laying four inches of asphalt no later than this week.
 
Peachey is married to Kara Lawler, also a Juniata Valley graduate, and they have two children, a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.
 
Jeff can be reached at jgill@huntingdondailynews.com.